I enjoy late season hunting. I like hunting when the temperatures are cold. I like hunting when the leaves are off. But most of all, I like being able to easily identify limited resources that deer need. As the temperatures drop, deer require more food to maintain their body temperatures so they need to eat. In most areas of the whitetails’ range quality food is limited in distribution during the late season. Most acorns have been consumed. The crops in agricultural fields usually have been harvested. The food in smaller, unprotected food plots has usually been consumed.
Because of the limited food sources, hunters can identify where deer are feeding. However, that doesn’t mean seeing mature bucks will be easy! Mature bucks are masters at surviving – that’s why they reached maturity. So, it usually requires more skill than simply locating food sources to harvest mature bucks during the late season. Mature bucks often react to the smallest amount of pressure and avoid locations during daylight where they’ve encountered hunters recently. Since it is late season, most food plots have been hunted many times and are areas mature bucks avoid during daylight hours.
I take a different approach. I use the time lapse feature of Reconyx trail cameras to scout preferred food sources during the late season. This allows me to gain M.R.I. (Most Recent Information) about the age of bucks using a food source, predictability of bucks using that food source, when they are using the food source, and how they approach/leave the food source. Using this information, I can, if necessary, hang stands during periods when deer are least likely to be at or near the food source.
Late season mature bucks have usually been heavily pressured. They are very alert and conditioned to avoid all forms of predation. However, by using tactics to avoid letting them know you are in the area, the late season can be the best time to pattern a mature buck because of his dependence on food! I really enjoy hunting the late season!
Growing Deer together,